Fashion corner with Maria Malek, FOURTH-GRADER,  TIFAM Youth Editor

I noticed that you have a very interested style, so tell me what fashion have in common with archery? Doesn’t one disturb the other?

how long have you being doing archery?
I started archery in February 2022, so just 2 years

where do you get your ideas for new outfits?
Most of the times when I start my sewing project, I never know what I’ll get as result. I love upcycling and I’ll get materials basically from everywhere. For example this kilt-looking skirt – it’s made from old uniform that was worn in 1970s. My mother in law sent me this uniform-dress from Estonia. When I first saw this uniform-dress, I had no idea what to do with this. I unraveled it in parts. It had not much material to get dress long enough up to my taste, so it had to become a skirt. Bonus of skirt is that I can change tops, short or long sleeves depending a need. I also wanted to use up as much fabric I can and another thing in my designs is that there must be some-kind of twist, like you see, it is not evenly in same length. Somehow the result is looking kind of like kilt and somehow it’s one of my favourite piece for cooler weather, leggings under it keeps me warm. And as we all know Irish weather is windy and cool most of the times, then I need headpiece, anything that keeps my head warmer. I love warmth and I love Ireland with it’s weather, so I needed a hat. Had plenty material leftover from skirt, I made matching hat. So basically if I’m in need or I want of something, I’ll figure out how to make it myself and inspired from old times like for example medieval, viking age mostly, when women also had feel comfortable enough doing their every-day jobs wearing long skirts or dresses. I even made my own quiver. I thought that I’ll make something til I find something ready made that I really like, but ended up that I like my own made enough that I keep using it. It’s light weight, fabric is good, strong enough to last long, if gets wet, it dries up quickly, it has enough pockets to carry essentials like whistle, pen and phone. Overall worked out useful.

how long ago did you start archery, and how did your fashion changed since then?
I started archery in February 2022 and yes, my fashion changed at the start for about a couple of months. I started to wear trousers at the start. I was bit scared to be different than others and also I thought that there is a must of wearing trousers. I even bought warm trousers 😀 , but felt so wrong, it’s not me, something is different and not comfortable. At some point I realised that I don’t have to change a thing in me, there is no rules regarding wearing trousers and I picked up my courage to be as I am even doing archery and since then I feel like all fell in right place.

What inspires you both in terms of fashion and shooting arrows?
Beauty inspires. The therm of beauty is definitely different for all people, but I think archery is beautiful sport. Look at the people, their mind is focused, they enjoy what they are doing, surrounded lovely company and in case of field archery, nature is beautiful all year around – what else to wish for? I also love yoga, have been practising yoga actually nearly 28 years now, I am also qualified yoga and meditation teacher. In case of archery I keep laughing that this hobby is like my two hobbies, yoga and hiking, together, 2in1, but on top of it I can shoot my beautiful arrows with my beautiful one piece wooden traditional recurve bow 😀 However archery and dress-making, these both are meditative and calming hobbies. I don’t have to sit down and do nothing to be in meditative stage, I am totally in my “own world” when sewing or doing archery. Mind focused doing something what I really love and then wearing what I’ve made and feeling comfortable in it, it’s a bonus.

When did your love for fashion begin – same for archery?
My love for dress-making came from childhood. I remember actually my first skirt. I asked my grandma for fabric so I could make skirt that I could wear outside. Granny gave me fabric that she didn’t feel sorry to get rid of. I made me skirt and next grandma was like, oh it’s beautiful, you are not going outside wearing this and took it away, that I may wear it only when going somewhere. I was crying as I really wanted a skirt that I could wear outside. After all grandma gave up and gave me permission to wear this skirt outside.
But in case of archery only a little more than 2 years ago. Before that when I was asked a question what do I know about archery, I was like ”Robin Hood”, meaning that I know nothing about archery. Me man, Mart Murk, he started archery here in Ireland in November 2021, I was hanging around, looking what he is doing and then thinking myself that I also want to try at least.

And once I’ve got bow in my hand, I found one more love of my life 😀

What is your biggest achievement in archery and what did you Weare receiving award?
My biggest achievement in archery is of-course hitting targets, getting a score that I am myself happy about and staying calm and balanced even if not all didn’t work out the way I was hoping for. I’ve been on podium some several times, of-course this feeling is like a cherry on cake, you know that you have been doing well enough and practicing worked out. But I myself feel that the most important thing is to be happy with myself.

What clothes would you recommend for archery?
I recommend comfortable clothes and the ones that you like. Anything that makes you feel comfortable and suits the weather and don’t be afraid to be creative.

What is that you love the most in archery – same for fashion?
I love being in nature and I’ve always loved doing some sport like hiking, walking, running and yoga. Now archery is these all put together plus with bonus – I can shoot arrows.
In case of fashion I love mixing like old and nowadays fashion together, so it could be useful for me in everyday life. Long maxi skirt and hiking boots – these sound together so wrong actually for a mind, but I think these work out together well enough.

What are the biggest challenges that you have to face in archery – same for fashion?
My biggest challenge has been to understand the guessing the distances. For me it’s like oh, it’s far far away or that is close enough. I am still learning it. I can be quite okay some days, and another days I don’t understand the distances at all even if there are groups marked down.
Biggest challenge in fashion has been actually to find the good sewing machine. I repair and service sewing machines here sometimes for other hobby-designers. One lady kept coming back with one Toyota 3 times. All her other machines kept working away after repairs/service, but somehow she got sick of this Toyota and gave it to me. For me it’s one of the best machines to work with, softly smoothly running machine. So yes, biggest challenge has been to find good sewing machine. I am in search of good spare one just in case.

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you while doing archery – and same what is the funniest story in relation to fashion?
I love that people have preserved their sense of humour and still have fun in the forest so that the forest echoes with laughter. I’d say actually that most of the times it’s a lot of fun and laugh in the woods doing archery. However, I’ve made some funny shoots that me myself laughing loudly. Arrow landed upside down or spot on hit the peg, not the target. I was looking like how’s that possible? It was so funny.
In case of dress-making I had one upcycling project in half way. One morning about 5am my mind wakes me up showing me like pictures what to make out of this fabric. I’m like “I want to sleep. Can we think about designs later?” Trying to calm down my mind for a sleep, but no, mind didn’t give up, shows me pictures like “Oh, how about this pocket somewhere? How about some frills?” I’m like, hello mind, it’s 5am, I want to sleep! But there it was, I’ve got actually some inspiration how and what to do.

Do you want to pass any message for young archers/fashion enthusiasts?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself and do what you love and love what you do. Or enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy. Simple as that.

I hope you enjoyed this Interview as I did, Thank you Marika for a great inside. Signing off for now, your Fashionista Maria. TBC…